LOS ANGELES, MEET JACK JOHNSON

Tuesday, 03.27.2007 / 4:49 PM / Features
By Thomas LaRocca  - LAKings.com Staff Writer
Los Angeles, meet Jack Johnson.

No not that Jack Johnson.

This version makes his living with a hockey stick, not a guitar.

"I get that a lot," Johnson said. "Every first day of class when they are taking roll, I am always asked if I can sing.

"I can't sing."

Regardless of his musical talent, scouts have been singing praises of his hockey talent, hence the Carolina Hurricanes drafted him with the third overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, behind only Sidney Crosby and Anaheim prospect Bobby Ryan.

"I try and play a complete game and be physical in my own end," Johnson said about his play, "and when the puck is going up the ice, [I] try and contribute offensively.

"I want to try and pitch-in in every aspect of the game."

The Hurricanes held his rights while Johnson enrolled at the University of Michigan, setting a Wolverine freshman record for scoring as a blue liner with 32 points (10-22=32) in 38 games during the 2005-06 NCAA hockey season.

After being unable to reach a deal with Carolina last summer, Johnson was acquired by the Kings along with defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky in exchange for center Eric Belanger and defenseman Tim Gleason on Sept. 29, 2006.

"I was really excited and shocked at first when they traded for me," Johnson told LAKings.com this January. "It took almost a day to pass before it set in and I never thought I would be traded before I signed with someone.

"But I am excited and I am looking forward to playing with them."

Johnson set career highs with his 39 points, 23 assists, 16 goals and 10 multi-point games during his sophomore year at Michigan. Not only did his 16 goals lead the nation in goals by a defenseman, but was the second-highest single-season goal total by a U-M defenseman in school history, while setting a sophomore defenseman record.

In addition, Johnson played for Team USA at the 2007 IIHF World Junior Championship tournament in Sweden, earning a bronze medal after scoring three goals – two game-winning goals – in seven games at the tournament.

With Michigan eliminated from the NCAA playoffs after a loss to North Dakota in the first round of the Men's Division I Hockey Tournament, Johnson signed an entry-level contract with the Kings on Tuesday.

"Getting a degree is very important to me, but I felt it was time to take the next step and taking on the next challenge."

His 'next challenge' will start with the Kings on Thursday night, when Johnson makes his NHL Debut at STAPLES Center as Los Angeles plays host to the Vancouver Canucks. (Get tickets now.)

"L.A. is one of the greatest cities in the World and to be playing on a professional team in one of the greatest cities in the World, there's nothing better."

Well maybe one thing.

He will be teammates with Kings defenseman Rob Blake, a player he looked up to as a youngster, even meeting as a 13-year old, when the veteran defenseman handed the young Johnson a hockey stick as a souvenir.

"It is really something else," Johnson said of playing with Rob Blake. "He is one of the best defensemen in the World. Growing up, he was always one of the players that I tried to be like.

"To be sitting in the same locker room is quite an honor."